Alaska Airlines Divorces from American Airlines… Now What?
In what came as a shock to most and not a surprise to many, Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that they would be cutting ties with American Airlines in a few short months. The relationship was already on the rocks and it appears that all the group therapy classes in the world couldn’t save this relationship. So, now that Alaska has lost another partner, what does this mean for Alaska and American loyalists? Where do we go from here?
In about as a generic of an announcement as possible, Alaska Airlines announced some “changes” would be coming to their AA partnership. Let’s be honest, these aren’t changes, it’s on life support. You won’t be able to earn on international flights. You won’t be able to redeem miles for flights. You won’t earn on anything post March 1st. But don’t worry, you can still get into their crummy admiral’s clubs!
State of the CURRENT Partnership
As of today, the American and Alaska partnership is strong and still active. Alaska Airlines members can still earn on domestic flights (with an Alaska codeshare number) and they can earn on International flights.
The mileage earning depends, as most partnerships, with the class of service booked. Here’s the chart for current travel.
Paid Business Class, Premium Economy, and Some high economy fares earn 100% of the mileage flown while cheap economy fares run 25-75% of the miles flown.
State of the FUTURE Partnership
As of March 1st, 2020:
- You will no longer earn Mileage Plan miles on American Airlines international flights.
- You will no longer be able to redeem miles for award travel on American Airlines domestic or international flights.
For trips booked on or after October 2, 2019, travel must be completed by February 29, 2020 in order to earn miles. Trips booked before October 2, 2019 for travel after February 29, 2020 are still eligible to earn Alaska miles by submitting a mileage credit request after your flight is completed.
So, the good news is that if you’ve booked a flight with the knowledge that you would have earned miles in the past, Alaska is going to honor those points requests. You’ll just have to submit those forms manually. If you want to book something for March, April, or beyond, I hope that you like earning AA or Oneworld miles because you’re S.O.L.
Does this make Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan weaker?
In short, it sure does. The loss of a partner is never a good thing, especially for frequent fliers of Alaska. I just redeemed miles to fly Montevideo to Miami to Seattle with Alaska miles, and not having that option anymore sucks.
American has a great network throughout Europe, Central and South America. To not have access certainly puts a damper on my use of miles.
Now that LATAM is being supported by a 20% state from Delta Airlines, expect LATAM to fall off the map soon as well. Delta, Air France, KLM, and Aeromexico all severed ties with Alaska so I full expect that LATAM will start to feel the pressure soon. If we’re being honest, the LATAM partnership wasn’t that strong to begin with. For example, when LAN merged with TAM, only LAN flights were bookable. Previous JJ (TAM) flights still, to this day, are not bookable via Alaska Airlines nor can you redeem your miles.
Now that American has gone and LATAM is soon to fall, what South American presence does Alaska Airlines have? The answer, in short, is none. American and LATAM are gone, Avianca and Copa don’t really have any benefit to join up. GOL is partnered with Delta and Azul Airlines is mostly a Brazil operation.
Simply put, in South America, Alaska is in trouble.
The lack of the American Airlines partnership won’t get me to fly less, but I start looking for better ways to redeem points for AA flights. They’ve got a great route network that I loved to have access to. I suppose the question now is, where can I burn some miles to fly on American one last time…?